Meat-free Masterpiece

When I was in high school, I decided to become a vegetarian. It was a New Year’s resolution that ended up lasting about 7 years…and drove my mom crazy because she had to modify meals due to my newfound, self-inflicted dietary restrictions. Looking back now, I can say it was all worth it because it provided me with years of meat-free recipes that I still use today–especially during Lent!

One of my favorites came to fruition when I was trying to recreate one of my favorite meals from a restaurant I loved to go to when I was in college. Penne alla vodka. A delicious dish of penne pasta, mozzarella cheese, topped with an uh-mazing sauce.
In my recipe trial-and-error, I discovered that there was a LOT of ingredients in the sauce. So, naturally, I took some liberties with it and made a few time-saving changes. I also felt like it needed a bit more—so I added some seafood to it. (I’m allergic to shrimp, but the kids love it—so I’ll make the sauce and add the scallops, pour out my portion, and add the shrimp for everyone else to enjoy!)

Now, you can buy the sauce already made, but if you’re looking for a homemade-with-a-few-shortcuts recipe, look no further!

Penna alla vodka
1 box of Penne pasta
1 cup of sour cream
1 jar of pasta sauce – whatever kind you like!
½ cup to 1 cup of vodka
Mozzarella pearls
Shrimp or scallops, already cooked

In a medium saucepan, heat the pasta sauce over medium heat. Once it’s warm, stir in the sour cream and vodka. Allow to cook for about 7 to 8 minutes—this will allow the alcohol to ‘cook off’ so that you aren’t serving your little ones any booze! While the sauce is cooking, prepare the penne pasta according to the instructions on the box. Add the mozzarella pearls and shrimp/scallops to the sauce and continue to cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Serve the penne with the sauce on top as is or add some freshly grated parmesan or even more mozzarella cheese!

Sometimes you just need a good meat-free recipe—and I can always count on this one to be a crowd-pleaser!